The tone

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It was time for the last question at President Bush’s last news conference this morning, the relative first in a series of “lasts” over the next week. I turned up the radio, anxious to hear what question would be the one to put the historical imprint on President Bush’s term.

It was a question about Barack Obama.


You arrived here wanting to be a uniter, not a divider. Do you think Barack Obama can be a uniter, not a divider, or is — with the challenges for any president and the unpopular decisions, is it impossible for any president to be a uniter, not a divider?

The president — avert your eyes, hard-core Democrats — hit it out of the park.


I hope the tone is different for him than it has been for me. I am disappointed by the tone in Washington, D.C. I’ve — I try to do my part by not engaging in the name-calling and — and by the way, needless name-calling. I have worked to be respectful of my opponents on different issues.

keillor_getty.jpgDuring his answer, I could only think about Garrison Keillor’s political column this weekend when “The Old Scout” dropped a nuke on the incoming president, with whom he’s had a man crush for more than a year.


So you shouldn’t fret, dear hearts, if what you do doesn’t draw a big crowd or get written up in the papers. Be proud. If you’ve dedicated yourself to the tango, or playing drop-thumb banjo, or digging up ancient cities, or writing sonnets, you are beautiful, and please do not yearn for the bright lights. Those wombats reading the news off teleprompters are talking to the bedridden, the delusional and the criminal. The happy StairMaster president is on his way to a mansionette in Dallas, to be the decider of where to put the sofa. His successor, Mister Mambo, has cast his lot with Harvard and Yale and old Clinton hands, and soon enough, Lord knows, they will get the first of many comeuppances, and their shining faces will be chopfallen.

Mr. Mambo?

Some of the letter writers to Salon.com were not amused


Right now, Barack Obama should be called Mr. TCB. Does Keillor know what TCB means? Maybe he should check out that old Motown classic “Taking Care of Business.” (Bob notes: Wasn’t that Bachman — not that Bachmann — Turning Overdrive? Wasn’t T.C.B. the name of a show from Motown?) Keillor should also be informed that in Swahili, mambo means an item of business, a responsibility, a care, a concern, a worry, a problem. The plural form of mambo is jambo, and Jambo or Hujambo is a common greeting in Swahili. (P.S. I hope Keillor can recognize the linguistic efficiency of Swahili where one word does the work of a dozen English equivalents.) So perhaps Mr. Mambo isn’t really a bad name for Obama, albeit it should be Mr. Jambo, or better Bwana Jambo, since even before his inauguration, Obama is faced with a whole series “jambo.”

Yeah, well, whatever. The point is: If the administration isn’t even in office yet, and a Garrison Keillor Democrat is already taking shots at him, then let the dividing begin!

Photos via Getty Images

  • Bob

    Last time I looked, it’s deeds, not words, that tend to do the real dividing. And when it came to deeds, Bush and his cronies were masters of division, as well as being the epitome of kakistocracy. Bush’s claim that he was not a divider is just one of the many lies he’s repeated, hoping that if he said them often enough, they’d be believed. Good riddance to one of the least compassionate, least competent individuals ever to darken the White House door.

    Regarding Garrison’s remarks, he may have gotten the etymology of the word “mambo” wrong, but his observation that the new administration elite will look a lot like the Clinton administration elite, is clearly right on, and also very disappointing. (The more things change, the more they stay the same..)

  • Carolynn

    V. Funny that Bush is blaming Washington DC when he and Cheney made sure it was full of their preferred folks (like any administration). The deeds that came out of that group were what was desired. I’ll never forget Bush’s “spending of his political capital”…

    And as far as the “Clinton group”, as I recall, things were pretty good for everyone during the Clinton administration. I think having smart people on the team is a good idea. Records of results are good too.

  • Paul

    I can only assume that part of Bush’s oh so dedicated attempt to unite us all was a stern reprimand to his VP who told Democrats to go F… themselves. Or maybe it was when he told the world if they weren’t for us they were against us? Certainly it must have been when he said an atheist couldn’t be an American because this is a nation under god? I don’t care what this (choose your own expletive) says now, he’s been president for eight years and I was there. If I never see or hear this jerk again it will be too soon.

  • Rob

    I don’t know which Washington Bush thought he was going to when he became president. It was the Washington of small minded Gingrich and his gang of misfits who, with the help of right wing talking heads, made Clinton’s and Hillary’s and Chelsea’s life a living hell. They practically accused him of murder, for heavens sake. By comparison, Bush had it pretty easy and all he did was destroy everything he touched, mangled every word he spoke, tore up every law he didn’t like, turned every continent against America, and started as many wars as he could. The only reason he didn’t start any more wars – the only reason! – was because Iraq turned out to be a lot tougher than he and his conservative friends throught. Iraq turned out to be a blessing in disguise, ironically.